The Vikings’ defense, sans Harrison Smith or Patrick Peterson (neither of whom were listed on the pre-game list of players that wouldn’t play), Danielle Hunter, and Anthony Barr, managed to put together a three-and-out on the first series, making this game significantly better than last week’s game immediately. On the Vikings’ first possession, Alexander Mattison caught a couple of passes from Kirk Cousins and picked up a first down, but the drive stalled after that and the Vikings punted it away.
The Colts got into Minnesota territory quickly on their next drive, courtesy of a scramble by rookie quarterback Sam Ehlinger and a pass from Ehlinger to Zach Pascal. The Colts then leaned on the run, setting up a 4th-and-1 from the Minnesota 28-yard line. They settled for a 47-yard field goal attempt from Rodrigo Blankenship, which split the uprights and gave the Colts an early 3-0 lead.
The Vikings went three-and-out on their next possession, which was not great. But it did lead to rookie Chazz Surratt hammering a Colts’ punt returner.
Chazz Surratt lays the boom as a punt gunner pic.twitter.com/PgQd4Ammdl— Will Ragatz (@WillRagatz) August 22, 2021
And then, two plays later, the Vikings scored their first touchdown of the preseason, courtesy of their defense. A pass from Ehlinger was intercepted by Troy Dye, who took it 33 yards for a score! Greg Joseph hit the extra point, and just like that the Vikings were ahead 7-3.
The Colts then started picking up yards in chunks and quickly pushed into Vikings territory. However, thanks to a nice play by Bashaud Breeland on a third down, they had to settle for another field goal. This one was handled by Eddy Piniero, who connected from 31 to make it 7-6, Vikings, two plays into the second quarter.
Rookie Ihmir Smith-Marsette got the next possession going with a nice kick return, and Kirk Cousins led the offense back onto the field again for a third series. The Vikings got into Colts territory after a pair of nice runs by Ameer Abdullah, and the running game continued to push closer to the end zone. However, Rashod Hill then got beaten for a sack by rookie Kwity Paye and the drive stalled after that. The Vikings brought Greg Joseph out for a 51-yard field goal attempt, and he pushed it wide to the right.
That pretty much ended the evening for most of the Vikings’ starters midway through the second quarter. The Colts made a push deep into Vikings’ territory again, but then Ehlinger threw his second interception of the night! This one went to undrafted free agent defensive tackle. . .yes, defensive tackle. . .Jordan Scott on another tipped ball to keep the lead with the Vikings.
Jake Browning took over for Cousins on the next possession, and the Vikings went three-and-out with Browning getting sacked once. The two teams then traded three-and-outs again with Browning looking particularly bad on the next possession as well. Thankfully, Jacob Eason was also terrible for the Colts and could not generate anything before the two-minute warning.
Browning got it together after the two-minute warning, as he found Chad Beebe for a couple of big plays, including a 32-yard reception to the Indianapolis 31-yard line. But, the drive stalled out again, and Joseph came on for another long field goal attempt. His attempt from 49 yards out sailed through the uprights, and the Vikings’ lead was extended to 10-6 as the two teams headed into the locker room.
The offense for the Vikings, for the most part, did not look good. Cousins went 5-of-7 for just 23 yards, while Browning went 6-of-15 for 82 yards, most of which came at the end of the first half. The defense, for the most part, looked pretty good considering that they were still playing without a lot of key pieces.
We’re on to the second half at U.S. Bank Stadium, and the Vikings will get the ball first coming out of the locker room holding a 10-6 lead. Come on in and join us for the second half!